Gary Borders

Gary Borders has been an East Texas journalist and editor for more than 30 years. He is currently the editor and publisher of the Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune and also writes online each week at garyborders.com.

During his career Gary has taught journalism at Kilgore College and served as editor and publisher of newspapers in Longview, Lufkin, Nacogdoches and San Augustine. He began writing a column in 1982 and has written at least once weekly since without fail, though there are quite a few he would like to take back. The New York Times News Service distributed his column nationally from 1995 through 2009. His pieces have been published in the Detroit Free Press, Miami Herald, Austin American-Statesman, Palm Beach Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and — his personal favorite — the Maui News.

Borders has published two collections of columns, the “Loblolly Chronicles” in 2010 and “Behind and Beyond the Pine Curtain” in 2005. The University of Texas Press published “A Hanging in Nacogdoches” in 2006, his account of a brutal murder in 1902 in the state’s oldest town, and the trial that followed. He is currently researching another book, but is nowhere close to being finished.

Borders and his wife, Dr. Julie Teel-Borders, a professor at LeTourneau University, live in Longview with their daughter, Abbie, a freshman at Longview High School. He also has two grown daughters, about whom he has been writing columns since Ronald Reagan was president. They have long ceased to be embarrassed about it, though Abbie protests occasionally.

The voice on my cellphone was familiar and welcomed, in heavily accented Spanish. “Hallo, Meester Gary. It’s Jaìme. How are you?” I haven’t heard from my compadrè since my birthday in 2010, when he called to remind me I was turning 55. “Muy Viejo,” he joked at the time. Very old.

April is the season of hope for baseball fans. My beloved Red Sox are in first place, but it is far too early to get excited. Only two games separates first from last place in this nascent season.

color:#111111">A local school district recently hosted a donkey basketball game. Teachers rode on donkeys and competed against their students. I am a former donkey basketball player but have long hung up my riding sneakers.

Drones make the news quite often lately, both for the large unmanned versions used to launch stealth attacks in places like Afghanistan, and the much smaller ones used for a variety of non-lethal purposes: photography, tracking cattle in desolate places, or trying to catch drug traffickers. The Federal Aviation Administration recently outlined its proposed new rules in what has been a largely unregulated area, such as keeping drones within sight of the operator, no higher than 500 feet or faster than 100 mph. This is likely going to scotch Amazon’s plans to use drones to deliver packages.

Johnny Cace’s Seafood and Steak House in Longview served its final meal last Saturday night. A 66-year tradition ended with a two-month farewell. It brought out folks who became engaged, celebrated birthdays or had family reunions at the iconic restaurant. Or they simply patronized the place because of its great Cajun seafood and impeccable service.

I finally got a snow day. As spring explodes and summer beckons, I recall that February day fondly.

Sunshine Week ends tomorrow. Newspapers, media organizations and good-government groups have published columns, editorials and other material to raise awareness of how we must be vigilant to protect the public’s right to know.

When I told folks I was going to spend a week in Mexico and Big Bend working on a magazine story, a few acted as if I had signed my death warrant. “Are you going to have any security?” one friend asked. No, we didn’t, though there was certainly safety in numbers with five of us working together — including a scientist who lives and works in Mexico. My brother Scott had the wisest perspective, noting that many millions of people live in Mexico, and the vast majority get through the day just fine. I liked my odds.

The finish line of the finest adventure on which I have embarked in many years beckoned, at most 300 feet away. A group of us were descending a peak known locally as Big Hill just off the highway in Big Bend Ranch State Park. The peak overlooks the Rio Grande. On this final day of a seven-day voyage from Chihuahua City, Mexico to the Big Bend area, we got up at 4 a.m. to catch sunrise. It was worth the lost sleep. We arrived in the dark to give the two photographers time to set up their spectacular array of equipment.

I was heading home through a neighborhood north of ours the other day. And that’s when I saw the painted trees.

All of the trees — about two dozen total — have been whitewashed up to about six-feet high. Pine trees mainly, but a few hardwood trees also sported a new look. On the same street maybe eight houses down, another yard sported white-washed trees.

Painting a pine tree with a brush has to be hard work. The bark isn’t smooth, and there are plenty of cracks and crevices. Whoever tackled these loblollies had plenty of energy. This is serious yard art.

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